Canadian Super Bowl Ratings Collapse as Viewers Bolt to Fox for American Ads

Tom Brady attends Super Bowl LI  at NRG Stadium - Getty-H 2017
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Nearly 40 percent of the traditional Canadian Super Bowl audience on CTV tuned into the American network to view American commercials.

Sunday night's Super Bowl game may have been among the most-watched in Fox history, but in Canada, Bell Media, the local rights-holder for the NFL championship, saw nearly 40 percent of its traditional audience bolt its CTV network to the rival Fox network to view buzzy American Super Bowl ads.

The Canadian broadcaster blamed the country's TV regulator forcing the Fox game feed in Canada to air American commercials, rather than local Canadian ads as in years past. The result had Super Bowl LI on CTV and its sister CTV Two and TSN channels draw an average audience of 4.47 million viewers, down 39 percent from last year’s CTV audience of 7.32 million.

"It’s the outcome we predicted despite our efforts to mitigate the audience loss, and the support of the Canadian companies that stepped up to advertise on the domestic broadcast," Bell Media said Monday in a statement.

The CRTC this year forced the Canadian broadcaster to stop maximizing its NFL championship game ad revenue by substituting flashy U.S. commercials on the Fox feed with homegrown ads. Elsewhere on the TV dial, Canada's decades-long simultaneous substitution rules allow local broadcasters like CTV to still replace the U.S. feed for popular American shows like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family and air local commercials to boost revenues.

The Super Bowl ads decision followed years of pre-game hype surrounding expensive American Super Bowl commercials driving Canadians to complain to the CRTC. The NFL, NFL Productions and Bell Media earlier failed to get the federal government to strike down the CRTC policy ahead of the Sunday night telecast.